Parental Control/Monitoring Solutions?

Discussion in 'Software Stuff' started by mattlach, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. mattlach

    mattlach Member

    Aug 1, 2014
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    Hey all,

    I figured I'd check in here and see what like minded parents on here do about monitoring.

    We started to introduce my (now 9 year old) stepson to using the internet a few years back non a Linux desktop, and first monitoring him very closely, but over time the comfort level grew. It looked like he was behaving and required less and less oversight. I guess we got too comfortable, as we recently discovered him doing and accesshting things way outside of the appropriateness of his age.

    Judging by how busy life is, it is evident neither of us have the time to sit with him whenever he is online, and we don't want to remove internet access, as it is important to learning and becoming tech aware. The conclusion? We need some technological help.

    I have been researching commercial parental monitoring solutions, but have not been very happy with what I have found thus far. They all either have some sort of cloud integration, which concerns me from a security perspective, or have rather exorbitant subscription fees, way outside the realm of what is seemingly reasonable for a service like this.

    What can you people on here recommend?

    My requirements/wants:
    • Monitoring/filtering capability
    • 100% local solution (by local, I mean local network, no cloud integration or external web service)
    • Reasonable cost
    • Windows 10 capability (Linux a plus)

    Any thoughts?

    Much appreciated!
  2. Tom5051

    Tom5051 Active Member

    Jan 18, 2017
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    What a great opportunity to spend time with your stepson, teaching him the do's and don'ts of the internet. Oh wait, you want software to spend time with him and wonder why he is accessing adult stuff on an adult network hmmmm.
    I'm starting to see a pattern here...
  3. mattlach

    mattlach Member

    Aug 1, 2014
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    Lets reserve the value judgments please. We do spend time with my stepson, but we cannot be there all the time. Children have more free time than adults do, and there are dinners to be cooked, dishes to be done, etc. etc.

    Think back to when you were a kid. Did you play Nintendo games? Were your parents able to be with you every single second when you did? Now consider that most of these games are online in one way or another today. It is impossible for a parent to always be there. The software is to help, not to replace the parent.
    Cole, niekbergboer, Kybber and 4 others like this.
  4. Monoman

    Monoman Active Member

    Oct 16, 2013
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    @mattlach Don't worry about Tom's post. It's not helping to your initial request in the slightest. You're able to "guide" your stepson but inadvertent shit shows up and you just want the ability to block that, not provide a hands off "mindless" approach. He's out of line imho.

    So Bluecoat provides what's called K9, it's free uses the same filter engine as their professional stuff and works well. This is per client only and not a network solution. works perfectly. It's available for a lot of platforms.
    K9 Web Protection

    My kids are a little older (14 and 16) and we've graduated from k9 to more of a DNS solution. I use pi-hole locally and opendns filtering/monitoring. It's not perfect but with a home lab, you can force all external dns to your pi-hole and it logs and filters everything.
    Pi-hole™: A black hole for Internet advertisements
    Cloud Delivered Enterprise Security by OpenDNS

    pi-hole is free as is opendns but they do have a paid version ($20/year) for more granular reporting. I have stopped using the opendns reporting for the pi-hole as it works much better and is local. You'll need to play with the blocklists some. It can and will lock your internet down VERY well. I spent a lot of time white-listing sites...

    I can gladly provide more info if needed.
  5. cheezehead

    cheezehead Active Member

    Sep 23, 2012
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    Beyond what @Monoman already mentioned, I use pfSense to do some basic filtering and flat out disable it for them at bedtime.
  6. UnlistedUser

    UnlistedUser Guest

    Jun 9, 2017
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    Awesome. Lots of choices for you here. Dude, apologies for the slam in the first response. Don't know any of you personally, so I will refrain from judgement.

    It is absolutely wise to put measures in place like you mention. Kids, nay all of us, need boundaries to catch those moments of curiosity that leads them down paths that expose them to material that can be detrimental to their healthy development.

    I have used pfsense, untangle, openDNS as well. I keep a filter in place, but also limit screen time. As well, access for my kids is only in the family room and we make it a point to observe what they are doing - no internet access in their rooms. Internet is promoted as a tool to use and not a cure for boredom. Finally, I simply turn off the internet at 9pm. Oh... and when they access inappropriate material we talk about!
  7. pgh5278

    pgh5278 Active Member

    Oct 25, 2012
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    Purchased a fortinet firewall, has been fabulous, easy to setup and manage. Two children 4 years age difference, so different requirements. Going strong after 5+ years. Can control everything you mention. Multiple times for access each day, easy, applications Like games can control times for play.. Used the 40c model, but the newer 30C will be better, cheaper, less power fact looking at getting the 30C myself.
    The eldest is at Uni now and appreciates the "helpful control" and has no issues having a firewall..Plus it is easy to modify if he needs another 1 hr or two on the weekend etc..
  8. Net-Runner

    Net-Runner Member

    Feb 25, 2016
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    I am using Kerio Control for this purposes. I have purchased it for my small office which one floor below the flat. Quite easy to deploy (a pre-built OVF appliance) and setup. I bit expensive for pure home usage though :-(
  9. rubylaser

    rubylaser Active Member

    Jan 4, 2013
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    I have tried a bunch of different filtering solutions, but the easiest way I have found is to use the Circle by Disney. If you can get over the idea that it's performing a man-in-the-middle attack by using ARP poisoning, it works VERY well. It individually identifies users and devices and you can tie them to users. It comes with pre-built filtering levels for various age groups, and reporting. It also provides you a way to custom whitelist/blacklist certain sites as well. It allows you to set bedtimes, daily usage intervals, provide rewards, etc. It stays up-to-date and doesn't cost me anything other than the initial investment. You are doing well by training your stepson, but I definitely agree with providing a proactive filtering solution on top of good parental training.
    snakyjake likes this.
  10. snakyjake

    snakyjake Member

    Jan 22, 2014
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    I explored Disney Circle, and what I found valuable is the time/screen allowance.
    I want to limit/reward screen time. Not by time of day, but by duration.
    I want to block categories of sites (and not have to hover), similar to OpenDNS.
    I want to allow appropriate education sites, regardless of time.
    Screen time isn't just for kids.

    I'd rather not have to pay for an expensive subscription, it's not worth it.
    I would like to find an easy DIY solution that does the same thing.
    Thus far haven't found one.
  11. Evan

    Evan Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2016
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    Since it’s Apple devices as my target using the Apple screen time functions combined with the firewall filter seems to work ok.
    Difficult area to find a good solution for the kids.

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